How are computers used?

Updated: 06/21/2017 by Computer Hope

Today, many types of computers are used in our everyday life. In most parts of the world, it's impossible to use a product or service that doesn't utilize a computer. Below are examples of the industries, areas, and different fields using computers.

Banks and financial

Bank ATMComputers play a significant role in handling all of the world's money. Below are examples of how computers are used in the financial market and places dealing with money.

  • ATM - When you make a withdraw from an ATM you are using a computer.
  • Digital currency - When depositing money in a bank it is stored as a digital record. A computer keeps track of how much money is in your account.
  • Trading - Stocks and commodities are traded using computers. In fact, today there are even thousands of computers using advanced algorithms that handle trading without needing humans.

Business

Business is another big sector for computers and most money earned and spent is done using a computer. Below are some of the examples of how computers are used in business.

  • Register - If the business deals with selling goods to a consumer (e.g. a grocery store), a cash register, which is a computer, is used to complete transactions.
  • Workers computer - Many businesses assign each employee a computer that allows them to produce work and solve problems for the company.
  • Server - If the business uses computers, connects to the Internet, or handles e-mail and files, a server is used to help manage everything.

Communication

HyperX Cloud headset with microphoneToday's communication around the world is almost all digital and handled by computers. Below are examples of how computers are used in the communication industry.

  • Smartphone - If you have a smartphone, you have a computer in your pocket.
  • E-mail - More electronic mail (e-mail) is sent today than postal mail (snail mail), and computers handle all creation and distribution of that e-mail.
  • VoIP - All voice over IP communication (VoIP) is handled and done by computers.
  • Computer-assisted speech - Those who are disabled or cannot speak can use a computer to help them communicate. For example, Stephen Hawking uses a computer to communicated.
  • Voice recognition - Any phone or another system that uses voice recognition is using a computer to translate what is heard into text or other data that can be understood by the computer.

Defense and military

Many technologies (e.g. GPS and the Internet) were initially created or started with a defense-related purpose. Today, computers are still an important aspect of the defense industry.

  • Encryption - Secure communication is vital in the defense industry and computers are used to encrypt communications that should remain secret.
  • GPS - Using computers with GPS allows the military to track people and equipment and is still used today.
  • Computer aided flight - Many of today's jets and other aircraft require computers to fly and operate.
  • Drones - A drone is either autonomous or remotely driven and uses computers to operate.

Education

As computers evolve, so does how computers are used in the education field. Below is a list of how a computer can be used in education.

  • Internet - Connecting a student to the Internet gives him or her access to an endless supply of knowledge. As mentioned later, the Internet would not be possible without computers.
  • Learning - Computers can also be used to help design and create a more visual learning experience for students. Using electronic whiteboards with computers can also benefit a student by giving them a more hands-on experience.
  • Writing - Although reports can still be done using pen, pencil, or even a typewriter, a computer makes it much easier to write, format, save, share, and print reports.
  • Keep records - Computers are used to track students scores, identify struggling students, and are used to create a final report.
  • Testing - Computers can assist students and teachers with the testing process by stepping the student through a series of questions and keep track of the results.

Internet

Map of the InternetWithout computers, the Internet would not exist. Below are just a few examples of computers are used to help run the Internet.

  • DNS - When you type in a URL like https://www.computerhope.com/, a DNS must translate it into an IP address, which helps your computer to communicate with the server.
  • Web server - Every web page requires a web server or computer capable of receiving and sending requests when someone wants to view a web page.
  • Programs - A computer is also needed to run scripts and programs. For example, a search engine, shopping cart, or forum are all examples of programs that need a computer.
  • Services - Other services like e-mail, FTP, and SSH also require a computer or are daemons on the web server.

Medical

The medical field is another place where computers are vital and used every day. Below are some examples of how computers help those in the medical field.

  • Medical records - More and more medical records are being digitally stored. Storing these files digitally allow for quick access and transfer of medical information so doctors can know your history.
  • Monitoring - Computers help with monitoring a patient and can alert staff in the case of an emergency.
  • Research - A lot of the medical research that is done today is computer assisted. Without the assistance of a computer, it would either not be possible or take so much longer that it wouldn't be viable.
  • Diagnosis - Computers can assist in the diagnosis of a patient, from gathering a patient's history and conditions to comparing that information against a database of existing information.
  • Surgery - Although most surgery is still done with humans, it is becoming more practical and accessible for computer robot-assisted surgery. After being programmed, these robots can make surgery more accurate, faster, and less prone to human errors.

Transportation

GPSComputers also play an important part in transportation. Below are just a few examples of how computers help the transportation field.

  • Cars - Most may not realize it, but all modern cars today have dozens of computers that help control and manage the vehicle.
  • Traffic lights - The traffic lights that help control traffic are all run by computers.
  • GPS - Cars that include a GPS mapping system have computers for display and calculating routes.
  • Airplanes - The airplanes that help transport millions of people and goods every year are filled with computers that help control the plane.
  • Public transportation - Trains, buses, the subway, and other forms of public transportation are highly dependent on computers to help with handling what areas to cover, monitoring for problems, and handling payments.
  • Self-driving cars - Although relatively new, self-driving cars are becoming increasingly popular and rely on a computer to make all decisions on how to drive.

Multimedia

Computers also play a significant role in video and audio. Below are examples of how computers are used in the film and audio industry.

  • Editing - Once a movie, video, song, or audio track has been created a computer can edit that media instead of having to manually make cuts to the film or audio track.
  • CGI - Computer animation and CGI has become a norm in big budget films. To create these effects computers and sometimes server farms are used.
  • Manipulation - Computers can be used to manipulate pictures, video, and audio. For example, someone could use Adobe Photoshop to add or remove elements from an image.
  • Recording and playback - Computers can also be used to assist in the recording of audio tracks and then selectively playback each audio track.
  • Creation - Computers can also be used to help in creating new multimedia content. For example, creating 3D animation, 3D model, or a techno audio track can be done on a computer. After creating a 3D model, a 3D printer could also be used to build a product.
  • TV, DVD, media players - Today's Smart TVs, DVD players, DVRs, and other media playing devices today have internals computers to help connect the device to the Internet, run apps, or perform other specialized functions.

Robotics

RobotThe industry of robotics is exploding and computers once again play an important role in controlling robots. Below are some examples of how computers help control robotic machinery.

  • Control - Computers are what help control robotics. For example, without a computer, a robotic arm in an assembly plant would not know how or where to place a part, what speed to operate, or if a problem has occurred.
  • Learning - Computers can take the input given by a robot and take that information to help learn and adapt to new conditions.

Simulations

Some problems are so complex that it would be impossible for humans to calculate or would take too long to calculate. Computers are used to help solve these complex problems in a timely fashion.

  • Weather prediction - Earth has an extremely complex weather system, and computers are used to gather all of the variables and create weather reports.
  • Product simulations - Before some products go into development computer simulations are created to help simulate how they would work in the real world. By creating a simulation a company or government agency can see how the product works and make adjustments before the product goes into development.
  • Big data simulation - With cheap data storage companies can now store a massive amount of data. With this big data, a computer can be used to find unknown patterns.